Implementing a highly adopted ECM . ... Implementing a highly adopted ECM system. Or How I learned to

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  • Implementing a highly adopted ECM system.

    Or How I learned to stop assuming what users do and

    just asked

    Chris Wynder

    Director of Client Services

  • Synopsis

    Information management is the must have discipline for all organizations. Historically information has

    been managed by IT—governed purely based on storage capacity. IT then provided a file folder structure

    that mimicked the department and business unit level organization. This structure was manageable due

    to the controlled entry points into the corporate storage and expense of enterprise grade content creation

    storage systems. This model is now obsolete with the advent of cheap cloud storage and commercial

    grade content creation applications that have reduced the necessity for users to use IT provisioned

    storage locations and applications.

    The final straw in this information management model is the adoption of BYOD and mobile devices.

    Currently, organizations actively allow consumer grade applications and computers to access corporate

    resources and this has led to an exponential expansion of information. In this climate the organization

    cannot control access nor can it mandate the storage location of documents. Strategically IT needs to

    provide end users with a tool that mimics the consumer experience but allows the organization to retain

    control of the information.

    In this context, the adoption of a corporate owned enterprise content management (ECM) system moves

    from a nice-to-have item to a key strategic component of the information management strategy. In order

    for the ECM system to be an effective part of the information management strategy, the system must

    have a high adoption rate amongst end users. The focus on adoption as a key measure of success also

    requires a change in how ECM projects are scoped and implemented. The classic implementation model

    which is focused on controlling risk through taxonomy has proven insufficient. There is no tangible

    evidence that the classic method can lead to both risk reduction and any potential productivity gains. The

    risk aversion model assumes that the inappropriate access and stealing of information top drivers of risk

    and thus restrict the access based on document attributes. In fact, the top risk for any organization is not

    malicious attacks by outsiders but the accidental leakage of information by users while performing their

    duties. A risk averse model based on a document centric viewpoint fails to mitigate the risk from accidents

    because it does not provide IT with the flexibility to enable end users across their devices and tasks in a

    manner that matches their actual jobs.

    In order to mitigate the key risk of accidental leakage, the implementation of information management

    must account for how documents will be used in the workflows and processes that they are designed to

    support. This requires understanding what users do, where their key challenges are in information usage

    and what information they consistently need access to as part of their jobs.

    This white paper defines a set of exercise that should be included in your requirements gather activities

    as part of any ECM implementation.

  • Your problem: Your content and unstructured data (i.e. “Office filetypes”, images, PDFs, blogs, email, IM, social, etc.) has exploded past the point where fileshares cannot effectively be used to manage the diversity of uses, collaboration and security. End users are going rogue, storing information outside the corporate walls, because it is the only way they can find the information they need to get their job done. In short, your stored information has gone from potentially useful to a clear risk.


    1. Business users constantly complain about find documents. 2. Users are consistently breaching attachment rules on email. 3. Help desk requests are coming for Dropbox, Evernote, etc.

    The cure Organize the information at the system level to fit with end user needs. This requires an ECM system. ECM systems provide three tools that enable findability:

    1. Metadata/classifications-tagging of files and pieces of information allows them to be group based on use case or risk profile. Avoid common wisdom and focus on descriptors that align with how users describe the documents as part of their work day.

    2. Role based access controls-provides the basis for user based customization of the view. This also

    provides the organization key controls on access, modification and retention of content. Take the time to define how key users communicate and generate information to define what tasks and processes the ECM system must enable.

    3. HTML/CSS based interface- Users expect a certain style of UI from applications; consumerization

    has changed the value of personalization to a must have item. Focus on information access and easing persons to person communication of information through widgets and URL links.

    These three items enable IT to build a system that can enable productivity while ensuring the organization is protected from unnecessary risk. The ECM is just the platform, without IT working with end users to build the structure and processes it will fail.

  • Set yourself up for success: The keys to success are: Start with Information Governance.

    An information governance framework is a feature of all successful ECM implementations. This doesn’t need to be an exhaustive list of every retention rule but you will need a small group of highly invested business users. This is really about defining what kinds of information is valuable based on usage and the risk surrounding this, based on regulatory overhead. We want to start small and add only the information that end users need.

    Build a straw-man.

    IT will not be able to do this by themselves. Build a “model” of what the typical end user does during their day-not just what management has defined as the job role. Start within IT to document what you know about key users. Take this documentation to end users and let them tell you what you have wrong. Then go back to the business and ask them why you’re wrong.

    To ensure adoption focus on end user’s day-to-day tasks.

    Most importantly, discover what are the end users Barely Repeatable Processes (BRPs)? BRPs are those processes that you perform most days such as “contact clients” “Find Purchase Order”. These are tasks that the user performs, in some manner, every day. This tasks represent the bulk of information handling and creation work that users perform. These BRPs are key to ensuring usage of the ECM. Ignoring a BRPs is like ignoring tasks that enable day to day productivity. They are workflows that are driven by information availability so that the worker can keep the process moving forward.

    Anticipate the obstacles

    Finding the right people.

    There are two groups you can pull invested end users from:

    1. The veterans

    Every organization has key users who are repositories of knowledge. Those workers who are veterans and are often relied upon to train new users. Caution must be taken with this group, veterans too close to retirement often can be a negative influence on the process.

    2. The frustrated new hire

    Often ECM projects come about due to a lack of clear process and information management. This inevitably leads to poor knowledge transfer from unengaged workers to excited new hires. Find those workers whom are frustrated enough

    Barely repeatable Processes:

    Most organizations run on a series of processes. Processes such as financial consolidation or adding a new employee happen almost entirely within a single system. Often this is an Enterprise Resourcing Planning (ERP) system. These business processes have clear rules regarding whom performs which task and what the nature of the data will be that is required and outputted from the process.

    In reality these types of processes are a limited subset of business related tasks. Most processes have either an owner or a required output but not both. A customer service response may be taken by the first available representative, or a presentation may be created by the marketing team but have a clear deliverable. These are both processes and are critical to business success. These need to be given visibility but cannot live in a rigid system; due to a lack of clear ownership, process steps or completion.

  • Any project that requires the time and energy investment of multiple stakeholder always gets pushed to the bottom of the executive priority list. Make sure that the ECM implementation or re-boot is stays at the top of the priority list by aligning it with the C-level priorities.

    Typical of C-level priorities for IT strategy:

    •Revenue growth •Improved efficiency and operating margin •Creating new value •Improving processes •Being responsive to enterprise demand •Future proofing the enterprise •Retaining and developing staff

    Match the high level focus on priorities with a practical approach when starting. Focus on the departments that can enable the C-level priorities. Often this is finance or accounts payable or customer service. Engage with these departments and try to design a system that eases core concerns around a BRP or do